Book Review: ‘Autumncrow’ by Cameron Chaney

‘Autumncrow’ is a collection of stories set in the spookiest town in America, telling of its past and some of its quite varied and interesting residents. 

The town of Autumncrow resembles any other small town in many ways, and the people who live there are completely normal people — except, perhaps, for the fact that they acknowledge their monsters and accept their fears more openly than most of us are willing to do. 

The stories are loosely interwoven, ranging from the deeply unsettling to the macabre and horrifying. Each tale is a well-written narrative characterized by a dark undercurrent that creates shadows and nuances that become bigger and bolder at night. Some of the imagery is regular Halloween fare, while other elements are more sinister. 

‘Autumncrow’ is a most enjoyable work of macabre storytelling, suitable for young adults and older readers.  

Book Review: ‘Lydia: An Odd and Twisted Short Story’ by Lou Yardley

This is a short story in which the author develops a sense of foreboding and mystery that gives the reader that odd feeling in the pit of their stomach.

The plot is unpredictable and twisted, playing on the reader’s suspicions and assumptions right to the end.

Easily read in under an hour, this is a great read for busy people who enjoy dark fiction and psychological horror.

Book Review: ‘Sorceress of the Sapphire Part 1’ by S.E. Turner

This book tells two stories: the first, a quest to restore justice and balance,  and the second, a thread that draws together the strands of narrative from the first five books in the series. Together, these stories become a complete, complex high fantasy tale of the battle between good and evil for control of the Kingdom of Durundal.

It is not necessary to have read the previous books in the series in order to fully enjoy this one, although they are  all well worth reading.

While some of the characters  from the preceding books in the series continue in this one,  the central characters are of the next generation,  adding a sense of freshness at the same time as achieving very effective continuity in the series as a whole.

Reminiscences from some of the older characters provide part of the backstory, but they are not sufficient to deliver any major spoilers forecasters who might want to revisit previous instalments in the series.  This is evidence of how cleverly the author has crafted and woven an intricate story full of adventure, danger, and deep, powerful magic.

Book Review: ‘Gravity Hill’ by Greg Alldredge

This third book in the Helena Brandywine steampunk adventure series is packed with action and suspense as Helena fights to solve the puzzle of her parents’ disappearance and battle against the evil forces that have taken over San Francisco at the same time. 

In many ways, Helena is a woman ahead of her time, who shows that women can do anything they set their mind to. She is also flawed, which makes her more believable and relatable for the reader.

While this story is part of a longer overall narrative, there is sufficient resolution for this story to stand on its own merits. The book ends in a satisfying manner, and yet the teasers for the next story still make book 4 beckon most invitingly. 

Book Review: ‘The Unforgivable Act: Beaumont Bros. Circus Mystery Book 1’ by Tabi Slick

Set in Victorian London, this is a novella length paranormal adventure story in which the mystery is not so much who did what, but rather what the nature and powers of the main protagonist are. This was quite intriguing, although not the whodunnit kind of mystery that readers might anticipate from the title. 

The story is filled with tension and suspense that have been well crafted to build toward the conclusion and keep the reader engaged throughout. The exciting plot is enhanced by the varied nature of the characters and the vivid settings in which they live and operate. 

The book finishes with a strong sense of anticipation for further adventures. This reader hopes that the next instalment delivers more adventure and intrigue, but also more of a mystery that needs to be solved. 

Book Review: ‘The Realm of Lost Souls’ Angels and Magic Series Book 1 by R.M. Gauthier

It seems that even in the realms of heaven and hell, not everything is as straightforward  as one might imagine. 

This novella length introduction to Gauthier’s   Angels and Magic series is an entertaining read, written with good humour, an air of mystery and a very enjoyable degree of snark. 

This is a fun story that definitely whets the reader’s appetite for the rest of the series. 

Book Review: ‘The Grimoire Prophecies’ by K.A. Denver

‘The Grimoire Prophecies’ is a YA paranormal romance story featuring Sophie Seymour, a high school senior who makes a likeable and engaging main character. 

While some of Sophie’s challenges are specific to her own situation, others are highly relatable for most teens. As Sophie begins to discover that there is a lot more to the world around her than meets the eye, she is confronted by choices and decisions that she must make, regardless of how ill-equipped she feels to do so.

In the midst of her trying to reconcile the past and the present, Sophie’s senior school year is made far more interesting than anticipated by the arrival of a mysterious pair of twins. Readers with siblings will easily relate to the tension between Joshua and Ethan, which adds another layer of intrigue and complexity to the story.  

As the story develops, the author infuses the narrative with a tantalising blend of anticipation and curiosity that draws the reader in and hooks them in the story, causing them to invest in Sophie’s dilemmas and develop hopes for her future and wellbeing.

The writing is good and the story is well paced. The end of the book leaves the reader keen for the next instalment in the series, and for answers to the questions that remain unresolved thus far. 

This is a book with lots of appeal for readers of YA paranormal romance. 

Book Review: ‘Don’t Be A Meaniehead’ by Angelique S. Anderson

This is an enjoyable and straightforward story for children that deals with bullying and interacting with other kids in positive ways. The story is told in rhyming verse that makes it easy for kids to memorise key principles and therefore be more able to recall and apply them. 

This is a great book for young independent readers, but also for families to read and discuss together. It certainly offers opportunities for parents to discuss with their children the sorts of experiences that kids commonly have, and how to deal with those situations when they arise. 

The illustrations are engaging portraits of Anderson’s clockwork dragon character Quincy, who also features in Anderson’s steampunk fiction novel series for older readers, and his friends posing to reflect different aspects of the story as it is told. 

‘Don’t Be A Meaniehead’ has a strong positive message for children, making it a valuable addition to family collections and libraries. 

Book Review: ‘Perverse’ by Tim Walker

‘Perverse’ is a collection of poems and short fiction that exhibit the broad and diverse range of writing talent of Tim Walker, author of the excellent Light In The Dark Ages historical fiction series. 

Walker’s poetry offers insights and reflections on the trials, triumphs and unexpected twists of life. The poet offers a somewhat jaded but also grateful perspective that reminds the reader that as hard as life can be, it’s still worth living. 

The collection also includes a number of dribbles and short stories that showcase the author’s gift for storytelling in prose form. Each story is interesting and uniquely twisted to surprise the reader, and the underlying cynicism and dark humour add depth and most appealing irony to some of the stories. 

Much like the proverbial box of chocolates, this book is full of different textures and flavours, but there is definitely something that will suit the tastes of each different reader. While the subject matter and reflective depth of the poetry makes it more likely to be appreciated by readers who have lived and lost a little, the prose will appeal to a wider audience.   

Overall, this is a thought-provoking and enjoyable collection that offers a range of short reads that can fill in a short break one at a time, or colour a whole afternoon of reading and reflection. 

Book Review: ‘The Gullwing Odyssey’ by Antonio Simon Jr

As Marco embarks on an errand to deliver an important package, his life takes a most unexpected turn. 

What ensues is a riotous escapade full of diverse and interesting characters, situations full of danger and challenge, and enduring friendships that change not only Marco’s outlook on life but also his entire future. 

The storytelling is lively and colourful, carrying the reader along at a good pace and immersing them in Marco’s experiences. The narrative is infused with good humor and witty banter between characters, making this a most entertaining young adult fantasy adventure.